Sandra Jungbluth may have done her boyfriend’s bidding, but she now has to pay the price. Last June 8, Jungbluth, an accountant for a consulting firm that handles benefits for a Wisconsin affiliate of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), was sentenced in a state court to three years of probation for embezzling more than $450,000 in union funds over nearly a decade and forging the signature of a company vice president. As a condition for probation, she must serve eight months in jail. Jungbluth had been charged in February 2011 and pleaded guilty in December of that year. She also will have to make restitution in the amount of $459,000.
Prosecutors had charged that Jungbluth, now 39, a resident of Waukesha, Wisc., used her position as an accountant with the Milwaukee office of the Columbia, Md.-based Carday Associates to divert benefits belonging to the Wisconsin Operating Engineers to herself and/or a former boyfriend. She allegedly cashed more than 200 checks in amounts not exceeding $2,500 so as not to arouse suspicions. She also forged the signature of Carday Vice President Mary Jane DeBattista. Following a meeting between DeBattista, another Carday executive and a Waukesha County sheriff’s investigator, Jungbluth was arrested on February 4, 2011. This led to a full probe and the filing of formal charges. Jungbluth pleaded guilty in December 2011. An immigrant and a U.S. resident for some two decades, she claimed that a former boyfriend had intimidated her into making the unauthorized withdrawals. Yet the thefts had begun in 2002, some nine years before her arrest. The “Stockholm Syndrome” defense may have been convincing enough to keep her out of state prison, but it wasn’t enough to absolve her of a debt to society or to the union.